Founder of Nasty Gal: Sophia Amoruso

Feminist fashion inspo or fictionalised rubbish? Sophie Schneider finds out.

Sophie Schneider
19th May 2017

I can’t speak on behalf of anyone else, but this past week I have been obsessively watching Girl Boss despite ever-looming deadlines, and against the advice of everyone everywhere (some of the reviews are beyond savage). Nevertheless, it’s the epitome of what I want in a chick flick Netflix show: wit, a slightly implausible plot line, sarcastic yet wonderful romance, and incredible vintage clothes. To top it off, and what really ensured that I stayed in my room for actual days, is that it’s a real story. We all love the claim of legitimacy when we watch films: those spine-tingling words ‘based on a true story’ are the only reason the Blair Witch Project continues to scare the shit out of me. Girl Boss is the story of Sophia Amoruso, the founder of the multi-million enterprise Nasty Gal: although the show does itself warn the viewer that it’s based ‘real loosely’ on Amoruso’s tale. It’s a fantastically snarky commentary of her journey to success from ‘nothing’ (I use inverted commas here as her ‘nothing’ includes a middle-class father willing to co-sign a lease on an office building, a room in a huge house in Sacramento, and a wardrobe of clothes I would physically sell my right kidney for). Despite the slightly dodgy by-line of from ‘rags to riches’ that the Netflix show adopted, it is a pretty inspirational eBay success story, as Amoruso owns one of the most popular online sites worldwide.

"The costume design in the show is stunning: from red tight flares to navy blue velvet waistcoats, everything both the protagonist and her best pal Annie wear is subject to severe outfit jealousy"

The show depicts Amoruso’s vintage clothing as distinct, different, including a metallic leather East West Musical Instrument Company jacket, found by vintage dealer Brian Cohen, which the fictionalised Sophia sells for 50x the price she pays for it. The costume design in the show is stunning: from red tight flares to navy blue velvet waistcoats, everything both the protagonist and her best pal Annie wear is subject to severe outfit jealousy. Costume designer Audrey Fisher who also dresses the cast of True Blood was inspired by Amoruso’s own wardrobe - many of the items are variations on the entrepreneur’s 70’s vibe outfits. Nasty Gal itself doesn’t quite live up to the vintage expectations, as the site looks commercialised and like every other high street store. It’s almost as if a high-street brand owned it - oh wait. Yes, the fairy-tale Cinderella-esque story ends here, as Boohoo now own the brand after Amoruso stepped down as CEO in November following multiple lawsuits which lead to her eventual bankruptcy. Netflix neatly ended the story after Amoruso opened her own fashion website, as she’d been banned by Ebay (master-minded by a creepy Dolores Umbridge lookalike, complete with pink old lady attire).  This neat conclusion allows the viewer to snuggle back into watching shitty Netflix-own productions, relaxing in the bliss that there’s another feminist ‘girl boss’ inspiration who emerged from nothing, bathing in success somewhere fabulous. Alas, here I am shitting on your bliss:  statements from previous employees contradict the feminist rhetoric that entrepreneur appears to preach. They describe a toxic work environment with vicious management and layoffs left right and centre (including multiple pregnant employees) – not quite as empowering as we thought.


Ultimately, whether you approve of Amoruso’s work ethic and flippant money spending or not, the show is a dream for all fashionistas: you could watch it on mute just drooling at the vintage clothes Fisher picked out. It’s also incredibly funny; think Samantha from Sex in the City but more outrageous and rude. You just must switch the program off quickly after the ‘uplifting’ typically Hollywood ending, and blank out the less fluffy, real-life conclusion for Sophia Amoruso and her website.


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